Music is human. And here, King of Bongo will show you the best music available on the internet. What you will find: a vibrant source of sounds and vibes, grooves and noise, some you will never have heard before. Are you ready to go on the journey?

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Sonic Dragnet #3: Mr Fine Wine & Downtown Soulville

(An occasional dip into the sources of Music enjoyed by King of Bongo)

Last summer King of Bongo was spending some time down south in Elviria, near Marbella, Andalucia (KoB's usual residence is steamy Sevilla, hottest city in Europe), staying in a cool apartment in the mountains, 10 mins drive from the sea and local bar. Nice... but one of the few downsides to life in Spain is the radio. You have to dig a little deep to avoid pap like Kiss.FM (how many times do you need to hear Simply Red in one day - even one year?), but a good show can be found now and then.

Well, one evening during this extended break, KoB was driving to Estepona to meet his brother, and decided to try his luck with the radio. What do you know, a stonking soul tune comes on, complete with authentic scratches, deep down bass, and stabbing horns. Wow, what a surprise.

Next surprise is when the presenter, after a few words en espaƱol, starts talking English to his guest. He's pleased to introduce Mr Fine Wine, a DJ visiting from New York. It turns out this Fine Wine guy is a deep down soul excavator - he has his own radio show, Downtown Soulville, on WFMU.org every week where he plays 23 or so genuine soul 45rpm singles, even some promotional acetates from the '60s - also, Mr Fine Wine is a regular disc spinner at a few choice NY venues, and is generally seen as an authority on all things soul.

After several more choice singles, most unknown to him, KoB was hooked. Taking notes is difficult whilst driving, but he engraved in his memory: Mr Fine Wine - WFMU - Downtown Soulville. He wasn't going to miss this fine source of music.

A few things happened the week after that - the biggest was the news about Hurricane Katrina, which sort of wiped KoB's memory clean of that soulful drive and the classic sounds he'd heard. So it wasn't until October that he was back home and able to re-establish contact with the internet (no online access at that apartment), and a few weeks after for the memory to resurface.

Mr Fine Wine is a little hard to track down. The Downtown Soulville show is podcast every week (normally Saturday after its broadcast the preceding Friday, three or four times a month), but info on the man himself is hard to come by, at least on the web.

But King of Bongo won't let you down - Matt "Mr Fine Wine" Weingarden is a hugely respected writer, broadcaster and all round soulful Detroit-native, transposed to NY and almost single-handedly trying to teach the people about all the good music they've forgotten. His DJ skills and awesome record collection see him on regular trips to New Orleans and even further afield to Europe, and he is also known to compile a few collections on disc. Hey, he even writes for the New York Magazine. Is that enough to be going on with?

Back to the music - since last October King of Bongo has been religiously downloading Mr Fine Wine's WFMU radio show Downtown Soulville - and one hour on Saturday is spent in a blissful soul state. A weekly fix of beautiful sounds and vibes.

Here's a sample playlist (from yesterday):
Leon Mitchison Orchestra "Sho Nuff"
Billy "the Kid" Emerson "I Did the Funky Broadway (Pt. 1)"
Willie Baker "Hey Baby"
Clay Hammond "Twin Brother"
Carl Stewart and the Sonics "Say Y'all"
The Torques "Bumpin"
Archie Bell & the Drells "Dog Eat Dog"
Harvey Scales "Sun Won't Come Out"
Syl Johnson "I've Got to Get Over"
James Brown "In the Middle (Pt. 1)"
Duke and Leonard "Just Do the Best You Can"
Hannibal "I'm Your Man"
Toni Williams "Tearing Down My Mind"
The Themes "Bent Out of Shape"
Melvin Davis "I Must Love You"
The Birds of Paradise "Bossa Blue Port"
Brenda & the Tabulations "Little Bit of Love"
Spitting Image "JB's Latin"
Soul Chargers "My Heart Beats for You"
Soul Invaders Inc. "Careless Loving"
Lyn Taitt "Steppin Up"
Betty Lavette "You'll Never Change"
Larry Birdsong "Somebody Help Me (Find the One That I Love)"
Johnny Copeland "I Got to Go Home"


Every one a winner - and a genuine 45. Total respect is due to Matt "Mr Fine Wine" Weingarden, and his essential work. Thank you!

Get the habit - tune into Downtown Soulville, and tell 'm King of Bongo sent ya!

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